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Candidates for senate in 28th district

By Judy Reed

Last fall, former state senator Peter MacGregor, who was the senator in the 28th district, won the election to become the new Kent County treasurer. That left a vacant state senate seat, and there are five candidates running for this seat. The Post emailed letters to the candidates, asking them to answer just a few questions and supply a photo. Only two responses were received by press time: Mark Huizenga (R), and Keith Courtade (D). We also now have Rep. Tommy Brann’s response, which was lost in the Internet zone on its way to us. Get ready to vote on August 3.

Rep. Mark Huizenga (R), 74th District

Tell us about yourself:

I am a life-long resident of Kent County. I grew up on a small farm in Walker where I learned the value of hard work. I attended Calvin University, where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and then completed a Master’s Degree in Management at Aquinas College. 

I have a strong background in finance and accounting, which has helped me throughout my business career. I am a small business owner, working with hospitals and physician groups. I also am the owner of a software company that helps manage energy, waste, water, and food data for hospitals throughout the US. I currently live in Walker, and I have three grown children: Elaina, Olivia, and Blake. Each of them has chosen service-focused careers, and Blake is currently serving in the US Marine Corps.

I have been involved in local politics in Walker where I served on the Planning Commission. I was elected to the City Commission and I served as Mayor for five years. During my time as mayor, we worked to bring thousands of new jobs to Walker, rebuild roads, and grow our water infrastructure. I was heavily involved in fundraising for the bike tunnel that goes under Lake Michigan Drive in Standale. Some of my most important work in Walker was as the Chair of the Finance Committee. We paid down debt early, accelerated payments on bonded projects, and reduced the city’s long-term liabilities. 

I currently serve as the State Representative for the 74th District. I previously was the chair of the General Government Appropriations Committee and presently chair the Higher Education and Community College Appropriations Committee. I also serve on the Transportation, Department of Health & Human Services, and K-12 appropriations committees. I believe firmly in being responsible with every hard-working taxpayer dollar (state or federal) and I pledge to continue to be fiscally responsible with your money.

As a state representative, I firmly believe in representing the people and have always run on Transparency, Accountability, and Availability – constituents may call me any time at 616-334-4885.  Compared to my opponents, I have hosted “office hours” five times a month throughout the district, including Big Boy in Cedar Springs (excluding during the pandemic shutdown). 

Have you served on other types of committees or boards?

It has been my honor to serve on many community boards including The Salvation Army Advisory Board, Council of State Governments, Midwestern Higher Education Compact Commission, Grandville Walker Community Foundation advisory board, Calvin Christian School Education Foundation board, Health Development International board, and the Asthma Network of West Michigan. 

What do you hope to accomplish if you are elected?

Upon being elected, I will work to ensure that our community has continued access to the American Dream. My conservative principles and faith will guide me in my service as doing so will ensure that our children have access to that dream. Be it producing a balanced state budget, protecting individual liberties, or halting government overreach, I will make government responsible to We the People. I also believe that we must hold our Governor accountable for her actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, support our law enforcement, and ensure the integrity of our future elections. 

Election website address for more info:

www.votehuizenga.com

Keith Courtade (D)

You can count on me to be a voice for families and individuals, the middle class, the poor and senior citizens—all of the residents—if elected as your state senator. I brought that advocacy to the Kent County Board of Commissioners when I was elected to that service. I maintain a commitment to fiscal responsibility, tax fairness, accountability and open government. Health and safety are important to watch and guard. I will work to maintain and restore the quality of our ground water and hold polluters accountable. I will stand up for free, fair, accessible elections and will absolutely oppose all efforts that interfere with our ability to vote. I will demand open debate on important state issues and oppose any efforts to make  decisions behind closed doors. Elected officials should be held accountable for their decisions. I will treat each and every person with respect and courtesy. I pledge to provide strong, effective leadership that it truthful and fair. I ask for your vote on Aug. 3, 2021 and I look forward to serving you once again.

Rep. Tommy Brann (R), 77th District

Tell us about yourself:

Tommy Brann, 69, was born and raised in Kent County. He currently lives in the city of Wyoming, Mich. He’s been married to his wife, Sue, for 48 years, and the owner of Brann’s Steakhouse and Grille, for 50 years.

What committees or boards have you served on?

As State Representative, I currently serve on the Budget Committee. Like at my restaurant, I watch every penny in our state budget. I am also the chair of the Military & Veterans Affairs and Michigan State Police budget subcommittee. I am the only candidate endorsed by an organization representing law enforcement, the Fraternal Order of Police. It is important our men and women in blue have the tools and support necessary to keep our communities safe. Locally, I served on the Metro Health Foundation Board and Wyoming Economic Development Board.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

“If elected, I want to work to bring Michigan into the top ten in the nation for education. I want to encourage courses on free enterprise and entrepreneurship in our K-12 schools. I also want to combat efforts to defund and dismantle police departments across our state. Another priority of mine is homelessness and affordable housing. My father, John Brann, always said there should not be homelessness in a country as rich as ours. I have been successful in securing more funding for homeless shelters and eliminating barriers for residents to obtain housing, I want to continue this work.”

Website: brannforsenate.com

The other two candidates running are:

Kevin Green (R) (currently Algoma Twp. Supervisor), and Gidget Groendyke (D).

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